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Forced Closure Of Medical Cannabis Dispensaries Associated With Localized Increases In Crime

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Santa Monica, CA: The closing of medical marijuana dispensaries are associated with an increase in the incidents of criminal activity in those locations, according to an assessment of crime statistics published this week by the RAND Corporation.

Researchers analyzed Los Angeles crime data for the ten days prior to and the ten days following June 7, 2010, when the city ordered the closure of more than 70 percent of the city's 638 medical marijuana dispensaries. Authors limited their analysis to ten days because court challenges prompted some closed dispensaries to reopen.

"Studying crime both before and after a large number of dispensaries were shut down in Los Angeles, researchers found that incidents such as break-ins rose in the neighborhoods of closed dispensaries relative to dispensaries allowed to remain open, at least in the short term," the RAND Corporation summarized in a press release. "In the blocks with the closed dispensaries, the study observed crime up to 60 percent greater than comparable blocks with open dispensaries, but the effects were not apparent across a wider area."

Said the study's lead author: "If medical marijuana dispensaries are causing crime, then there should be a drop in crime when they close. Individual dispensaries may attract crime or create a neighborhood nuisance, but we found no evidence that medical marijuana dispensaries in general cause crime to rise."

Previous analyses of crime statistics in Denver, Los Angeles, and Colorado Springs also found no data supportive of the notion that the locations of dispensaries are associated with elevated incidences of criminal activity.

For more information, please contact Allen St. Pierre, NORML Executive Director, at (202) 483-5500 or Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director, at: paul@norml.org. Full text of the RAND Corporation study, "Regulating medical marijuana dispensaries: An overview with preliminary evidence of their impact on crime," is available online at: http://www.rand.org/content/dam/rand/pubs/technical_reports/2011/RAND_TR987.pdf.





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